A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy
BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (# 51)
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – November 13, 2005
“Since You Were Faithful in Small Matters …”
Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 // I Thes 5:1-6 // Mt 25:14-30
I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS
The bible readings of this Sunday, the second to the last Sunday of the liturgical year, prepare us for the anticipated return of Jesus on the last day. The Gospel reading (Mt 25:14-30) not only directs our eyes toward the final event of the Lord’s coming, the end and fulfillment of the entire salvation history, but also helps us live the present in the light of its completion. The Parable of the Talents, proclaimed in the Gospel reading, stimulates our hope and revives our fervor in the efficient service of God in this ad interim time before the parousia.
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus tells us the story of the master who distributed various amounts of money to three servants before going away on a journey. The Greek word that describes these amounts is “talents”, which became the source of the English term “talent” as the description of the natural ability that can be improved by diligent practice. Two servants invested their talents and doubled the amount; the other one dug a hole in the ground and buried the talent entrusted to him by the master. The master returned and demanded a reckoning. Indeed, the point of the story is not the uncertainty of the time of the parousia, but the reckoning that will come and the responsibility expected of us.
Harold Buetow reflects on the meaning of this parable: “Sometimes we Christians, in favor of smooth security, are smugly disinclined to take the bold risks that others take on behalf of their business and personal ventures. Today’s liturgy on this next-to-last Sunday of the Church year tries to set us straight. Jesus’ story of the talents teaches us to boldly prefer taking active risk in our lives over passive complacency … The standard of God’s judgment of every person is relative to the talents given: the greater the gifts, the greater the responsibility. We are the servants in today’s Gospel parable, and the absentee master is a symbol of Christ; his return is a scene of judgment … The punishment for the worthless man - who had done nothing, really – was as harsh as that for more positive sins. We are not all equal in talent, but we are all called to collaborate in the work of the Gospel according to our personal opportunity, ability, and gifts. The reason why the master, perhaps paradoxically, took away what little the worthless servant had and gave it to the most profitable servant was that it is with using God’s gifts as it is with learning a language or playing gold: if we do not use it, we lose it … Many people, by external standards, will be “successes’. They will own nice homes, eat in the best restaurants, dress well, and, in some cases, perform socially useful work. Yet, too few people are putting themselves on the line, getting involved in something noble enough for their talents that is worth failing at. Jesus wants us to know that salvation will come to those who are prepared to risk their lives for him.”
The Parable of the Talents reinforces our responsibility to be trustworthy, active and efficient servants in this time of waiting for the Master’s return. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, comment: “God has no use for slaves who are timorous, devoid of initiative, and idle when the master is not present to watch them and stimulate them with carrot and stick. God wants his servants to behave in a responsible manner, to be enterprising and apply themselves to what they are doing. The master must be able to entrust his goods to them; they will know how to invest them profitably. He does not ask them to do great things but to assiduously discharge the tasks assigned to them. Grace, that inestimable good, is not something inert that we, for fear of losing it, can bury in the earth or hide under the mattress. If we have acted thus, let us hasten to take it out of its hiding place. Let us make the best of the delay granted us – we do not know for how long – to make it fruitful with God’s help.”
The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, conclude: “The Lord will come. This certitude is at the heart of the liturgy and animates it. Every time we celebrate the holy mysteries, we have a twofold experience: that of the presence of the Lord among us through signs, especially the Eucharist, and that of longing for another presence – a final one – that will fulfill our expectation. Today is the time of lamps patiently replenished with oil and of fervent diligence in daily tasks. Tomorrow will be the entrance into the banquet hall in the joy of the Lord.”
by Eli Doroteo APC-fdm
(Member: ASSOCIATION OF PAULINE COOPERATORS – Friends of the Divine Master))
It is still fresh in my memory the spiritual exercise we hade with Sr. Mary Celine, PDDM, during our retreat sometime in April 1999. The exercise was to divide our life into three segments and list in each of the three segments our experiences, most especially the downside in our life. Also, in each of the segments, we had to write God’s graces that helped us through those trials. For me, the three segments of my life were: 1) My life until I was a teenager; 2) My life prior to my married life; and 3) My married life and as a member of the ASSOCIATION OF PAULINE COOPERATORS – Friends of the Divine Master.
I was moved to tears when I discovered that in the three segments of my life, God was always present in my life in my MUSIC MINISTRY. In the first and second segments, I was a church choir member that started in Aklan and next in my stint with MIESCOR and in Muntinlupa. In the third segment (and until now), I sing the Responsorial Psalm during the Eucharistic celebrations. I realized that this is my calling – God gifted me with a talent of singing and of serving him in the Church.
As indicated in the Gospel of today, each of us has a God-given talent. The more we receive from God, the more we should be responsible to him at the judgment hour. This reminds me of the movie “Spiderman”. Peter’s uncle said, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. In capsule form, this is what the Gospel of today is all about. A man who left his precious possessions to his servants represents God in the parable; he is a risk-taker here. This I think is God’s way when he calls a person to answer a particular need; he endows the person with a specific charism. The specific charism when nurtured becomes his distinctive identity. When exercised to its full potential, the charism becomes the person’s contribution to the Church and becomes his special mission.
Finally, in my own journey in my ministry and as a member of the APC-fdm, I can say that trials do come my way. I know that my ministry and my being an APC-fdm member are both a gift and treasure that should be experienced in faith, in the Spirit of the living God. Thus, it is also a responsibility to: 1) live it; 2) guard it; 3) deepen it; and 4) constantly develop it.
II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART
A. How receptive am I to the Word of God? Do I allow it to direct my attention toward the end time and the fulfillment of the whole history of salvation through Christ’s second coming?
B. In this time of vigil for the Lord’s coming at the parousia, am I a conscientious, enterprising and risk-taking servant, bent on making the talents I have received bear abundant fruits for the service of the Church and the spread of the Gospel of Christ in the world?
C. Have I been an unprofitable servant? Have I been lazy, smug, fearful and irresponsible in promoting the kingdom of God here on earth? Have I failed to maximize the talents and grace given me by the Lord?
III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD
(By Nerses Snorhali, Jesus, Fils unique du Pere in The Days of the Lord, vol. 4, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1992, p. 254)
I was like the unworthy servant
who earned nothing out of his talents;
and I even outstripped him,
because I lost the gift of grace.
I have neither doubled your talent
nor made fourfold the two, nor tenfold the five,
so as to be in complete mastery
of the ten cities of the senses.
But I buried in the ground the one talent,
by wrapping it up in the shroud of vices.
I did not put the money in the bank
so that you might demand the interest,
that is, I have not carried the word of your command
to the ears of my mind,
which are the spiritual bank
of the wisdom of the Bread of Life.
This is why I expect
to be chastised in the darkness
until you come to look for the talent
which you granted me at the sacred font.
But to you, O Savior of my soul,
I want to weep and say:
“Since it is still possible for me to do good,
give me the grace to please you by acting rightly.”
Thus I shall hear the joyous sentence
like the faithful servant:
“Enter my celestial house
in the joy of your Lord.”
IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD
The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.
“Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.” (Mt 25:21)
V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION
A. ACTION PLAN: List five talents you have received from the Lord, which you have utilized fully at the service of the Church and on behalf of the community. Thank the Lord for all these gifts received. List five talents, which you have failed to use wisely for the benefit of all. Beg God’s mercy and pardon for your failure to invest them fully.
B. ACTION PLAN: To help us prepare for the second coming of Christ, the giver of all talents in the Church and in the world, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Visit the PDDM WEB site (www.pddm.us) for the EUCHARISTIC ADORATION THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR (# 51): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.
Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM
PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI
SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323